Metalwerx takes a Boston Field Trip: Society of Arts and Crafts and Makerbot

by Metalwerx on April 30, 2014

A handful of jewelry enthusiasts recently gathered in downtown Boston to learn about jewelry, both of the timeless variety and the cutting-edge new. It was the first of such “Outings” organized by Metalwerx, in which students, faculty, Studiomates and others will visit local jewelry galleries or metalsmithing venues.

Our first stop that blustery April day was the Society of Arts and Crafts (175 Newbury St.). We were treated to a private showing of the Society’s current exhibit, “Floral Fictions: Recent Work by Jessica Calderwood.” (See below for a description of our next Outing, to the Rhode Island studio of Jeff Herman.)

The SAC’s Fabio Fernandez conducting the tour

Calderwood uses her own drawings, enameling, electroforming, and sometimes commercial decals, to make heavily layered pieces. The Wisconsin artist, originally a ceramicist, combines botanical images with those of the human body, resulting in observations on the cycle of life. On some of her wall sculptures, the fineness and fragility of enamel is balanced by the brusque inclusion of electroformed accents.



Inhale by Jessica Calderwood

Exhibitions Director Fabio Fernandez carefully lifted pieces off the walls or out of display cases to allow us to appreciate Calderwood’s exquisitely detailed work. He also brought out works not on display, showing us jewelry that did not meet the “Floral Fictions” theme but were just as satisfying to experience.

Of the many pieces that caught our eyes, a pair of Calderwood’s double-sided brooches stood out. “Bad Herb” showcases her identifiable style of a woman’s profile and flower-do. “Moss” is a framed portion of electroformed metal, with a topography so dimensional that it indeed resembles a woodland patch of moss and dew.



Moss(top) and Bad Herb by Jessica Calderwood

Both brooches feature an unusual clasp: a straight pin stem captured by a movable hoop that locks the brooch in place. Calderwood was inspired to recreate the closure during a visit to a museum of historical art in Morocco. Known as a “fibule”–French for fibula–the ancient technique of fastening adornments to textiles in Calderwood’s hands becomes a uniquely modern interpretation.



Fibule closure

Calderwood has discovered the joys of felting. A floor sculpture of felt egg-shaped balls, colored in various hues of rose and pink and surrounded by felt leaves of green, is supported by a pair of pale, stocky legs in sensible clunky shoes. The legs were made from a mold of the artist’s legs, Fernandez said of the sculpture, entitled “Reluctant Sexpot.”


Reluctant Sexpot

Reluctant Sexpot by Jessica Calderwood


Fernandez asks the visiting artists to recreate their home studios. Calderwood’s installation had us all laughing at the paper and ceramic coffee cups, some with dried up coffee, scattered across the table among the inspirational drawings, enamel powder containers, jigs, and other accoutrements of the artist’s trade. The display is intended to show the artist’s process.



Jessica Calderwood’s recreation of her studio


Our Metalwerx Outing to Newbury Street had a Part Two. After a delicious lunch at Stephanie’s, we walked a few short steps to Makerbot, a retail store for 3D printers and scanners (144 Newbury St.). The store sells its printers and printing products, and offers services such as a photobooth where you can print a 3D, lifesized bust of yourself!



Tower of scrumptious onion rings at Stephanie’s Restaurant

The Makerbot store was decorated with lots of Easter-inspired gifts. A gumball machine sells clear round barrels containing some of their more popular items. But of interest to us jewelers was the printing technology. Eight printers are constantly in use, and that day store technicians were busy printing plastic bracelets in blue and yellow, the colors of the Boston Marathon.



Makerbot creating a bracelet


Our host, Eva Arneson, gave us a brief introduction to this increasingly popular technology, predicting that it could very well go the way of the desktop computer: one in every home. The printer uses biodegradable, flexible filament to make objects that can make plastic jewelry in a matter of minutes or, with proper cleanup, can be used as models to cast in metal. A ring prints in under ten minutes, a bracelet in 15, and a necklace in about an hour and a half.



3-D printed ring, bracelet and necklace by Makerbot!

Makerbot has about 25 different filaments colors. The machine can be stopped to allow for color changes in one piece. The corn-based plastic has a melting point of 150 degrees F. Getting the most out a Makerbot 3D printer takes practice, but the store offers workshops. Several sites, such as Tinkercad or 123dDesign, can be used to prepare files for printing. You also can bring in your file and they will print it out for you. Each of us was presented with a lovely, ice-blue bracelet to commemorate our visit.

“Metalwerx Outings” continues May 31 with a visit to the studio of the founder of the Society of American Silversmiths, Jeffrey Herman. Jeff will talk to us about “Studio Logic: Maximizing Space, Tools, and Technique,” and share pointers for setting up a safe and practical studio, as well as tricks he’s learned in almost 40 years of silversmithing.

                                                                       –by Yleana Martinez

The next exhibit at the Society of Arts and Crafts is “Artists Awards Exhibition,” recognizing the exemplary work of three New England contemporary craft artists, May 2-July 19.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Linda Michaels May 3, 2014 at 8:12 pm

What a great idea to do field trips. I wish I had been aware of this one, it looks wonder-filled! Very well done Metalwerx/Lindsay!

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